The Central African Republic (CAR) is facing a critical humanitarian situation that demands immediate attention. With over half of its population, 3.4 million people, in dire need of assistance and protection, the CAR is grappling with a crisis that threatens survival and dignity. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the CAR, emphasized the severity of the situation, stating that 2.4 million individuals are facing severe and complex challenges that put their very lives and well-being at risk.
Compounding the existing challenges, the conflict in neighboring Sudan has further exacerbated the needs of the CAR. Recognizing the urgency, a $465 million humanitarian plan was amended to include support for approximately 25,000 Sudanese and CAR nationals who have fled the fighting, as well as the local communities providing them refuge.
Displacement, floods, and underdevelopment have created a perfect storm of hardship in the CAR. Frequent military confrontations between armed groups have forced one in five people to abandon their homes, seeking shelter within the country or across the border. Additionally, devastating floods last year affected over 100,000 individuals, resulting in the destruction of more than 6,000 homes. Years of inadequate investment in socio-economic infrastructure, services, and livelihoods have left basic necessities inaccessible to a significant portion of the population, exacerbating their living conditions and eroding their resilience.
The consequences are dire. Three out of five citizens lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation, while only 55% of children are able to complete elementary school. Gender-based violence takes a devastating toll, with two women or girls falling victim every hour. In the first quarter of this year alone, nearly 5,000 cases were reported.
Adding to the challenges, the CAR is also contending with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which have further strained resources and compounded vulnerabilities. The arrival of approximately 14,000 Sudanese asylum seekers and repatriates from the CAR’s northeast has placed additional pressure on limited resources, while the suspension of commercial traffic across the border has disrupted essential supply chains.
Delivering humanitarian aid in the CAR is a race against time and a volatile security situation. During the rainy season, large parts of the country become inaccessible by road, necessitating air lifts. Moreover, the precarious security environment means that an aid worker experiences violence or security incidents approximately every second day since 2022.
Despite these immense challenges, humanitarian partners are working tirelessly to support vulnerable communities. In 2022, they reached nearly two million people, exceeding 90% of the target, and during the first three months of this year alone, they assisted 658,000 individuals. Quick mobilization and prepositioning of emergency supplies have been vital to respond to crises effectively.
To address the evolving needs, an addendum to the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for the CAR has been developed. This addendum reflects the additional budgetary requirements of $69 million to assist approximately 25,000 people fleeing the conflict, including both Sudanese citizens and returning CAR nationals, as well as approximately 25,000 members of the host communities.
The Central African Republic’s struggle for survival requires a collective effort to provide the necessary assistance, protection, and resources. It is only through sustained support and a comprehensive response that the CAR can begin to rebuild and restore hope for its people.